In mid-October 2016, an image claiming Pennsylvanians could “vote online” during Election Day by using the hashtag #PresidentialElection began circulating on social media:
Of course, no hashtag-based online voting mechanism has been implemented in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else). According to many social media users who reposted the image, the false information was being spread by Donald Trump supporters who were aiming to depress voter turnout in the key swing state of Pennsylvania. A number of social media posts shared the image along with such assertions and warned voters against misinformation campaigns about Election Day:
So the people claiming the election is rigged are circulating lies to trick HRC supporters into thinking they can vote online. #nicetry
— Matt Thorn (@matt_thorn_en) October 17, 2016
Be wary of crap like this, folks. NO state has “online voting”. Period. This is what “rigging an election” looks like. pic.twitter.com/oPUb4v3ro6
— Matthew Ciszek (@mciszek) October 17, 2016
The provenance of the meme was unclear. It was most likely intended merely as a joke, which one side then interpreted as a genuine attempt to suppress Democratic voter turnout in Pennsylvania, and which the other side claimed was spread as a smear against their candidate by suggesting his party would resort to such underhanded tricks. (Of course, it would be ridiculous to think that any particular online voting system could be used only by supporters of one particular candidate.)
Fewer than half the states (22) offer an extremely limited form of remote, online-based voting, but that function is typically available to a vanishingly small number of citizens whose circumstances prevent them from participating in standard polling place or mail-in voting.